Those pretty little swings - Part 2

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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but Editor Mark Flanagan thought he would give it a go anyway, picking his all-time 18 best-looking golf swings.
Posted on
February 28, 2023
Mark Flanagan in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

12) Seve Ballesteros ('88)

When Seve burst on to the scene at the 1976 Open, the then teenage whirling dervish wielded his clubs like a fencer going in for the kill.

It made for compulsive viewing on so many levels.

Twelve years later the Spaniard was still box office but all the wildness was gone and watching Seve win the 1988 Open at Lytham, you are seeing a beautifully fluid, seamless action.

Like water flowing down a river, he was never more in complete control of his action as he came through smiling after a glorious battle with Nick Price and Nick Faldo.

11) Ian Woosnam

For a man of just 5ft4, the Welshman generated fantastic power with a majestic action. It looked so simple and the asset that unites any great sportsman or woman is the ability to make the difficult look easy.

Woosnam comes from a farming background and he honed his skills belting balls in a barn at his home. Part of his success also came from developing massive forearms driving tractors around the fields as a child. Woosnam always said the strength of his back was the most critical aspect of his ability to send the ball miles.

Whatever he did, the power was generated in the most effortless-looking way.

10)  Tiger Woods ('97)

Tiger gets in for pure athletic ability. When he burst on to the scene in 1997, the rest of the world was stunned and his ability to overpower golf courses caused earthquakes in the game.

His position at impact in those early days was extraordinary… those hips snapping back beyond 90 degrees with apparently no effort. His body moved through the ball at a speed we had never seen before.

The downside was the incredible stress it put on his body and Tiger was never going to be able to maintain it forever. Luck has also conspired to limit him physically but we will always have that footage of him in his early days and marvel at the balance, power and grace he possessed.

9)  Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan has probably the most iconic swing in golf, from that outrageously flat arc to that wonderfully picture book follow through. In every aspect it is fascinating.

Freeze Hogan at the top of his swing and it looks nothing like anyone else we had seen before or after.

The angle of his wrist cock is akin to what John Daly managed but Hogan’s left arm got nowhere near upright, which means there is a great deal of control and Hogan’s ball-striking credentials remain the stuff of legend.

Despite all the ‘quirks’, it just has an x-factor feel about it and makes for compulsive viewing.

8) Ernie Els

There is something very appealing about golf swings that look effortless but aren’t and no player in modern history typified that better than Els.

The South African got lucky in that he won the genetic lottery by having a physique that was almost designed to hit the golf ball far and my how he cashed in.

The Big Easy’s wonderful languid swing was smoothness personified. Every young golfer wanting to understand the importance of tempo should be shown a five second clip of Els in all his glory.

7) Louis Oosthuizen

If you asked most golfers of all abilities today whose swing they would like, Oosthuizen would almost certainly garner the most number of votes. It has everything you would want, not least considerable power. Pound for pound the South African is almost as long as they come.

Everything looks so perfect plus he has the grace of Els and overall aesthetics of Purtzer.


Part 1, Part 3


Other articles in the 18 Club Series:
The 17th hole at Sawgrass’s 18 most iconic moment
Augusta’s holes ranked from 1 to 18
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About Mark Flanagan

Mark Flanagan has spent 25 years as a sports journalist. He has written for multiple golf magazines and can often be found missing putts from inside gimme range.

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